Undefeated super bantamweight prospect Brandon Gonzales boxed his way to a controversial eight-round split decision over Ossie Duran in their Shobox-televised main event Friday night in Atlantic City.
Scores were 77-75 (twice) for Gonzales and 78-74 Duran.
As was the case in the co-feature battle that preceded it (read below for full report on that), the main event saw a young undefeated prospect seriously tested against the suggested B-side of the promotion.
Unlike the co-feature, this B-Side wasn’t shown as much love in the end as Duran’s more effective punching was deemed by two of the three judges as not enough to trump Gonzales’ greater activity.
Gonzales came out fleet footed and boxing, but showed little to no regard for the art of defense. Duran was already viewed as the bigger puncher coming in, and his more telling blows had a significant impact early in the fight.
Part of the package that comes with Gonzales is the company he keeps. The Californian trains with super middleweight champion Andre Ward and celebrated trainer Virgil Hunter. Boasting a straight shooter like Hunter proved to be valuable in this fight, as Gonzales was given an earful midway through the fight for not letting his hands go enough, or making adjustments to avoid remaining within Duran’s punching range.
Momentum began to slip away from Duran the moment his dreadlocked do became undone. In a moment that was shades of Paul Malignaggi’s hair weave malfunction in his rematch with Lovemore N’Dou, Duran was forced to take a time out in order for his corner to tie together straying strands of hair that the referee deemed unsafe.
From that moment, Gonzales managed to box his way back into the fight. Rather than jabbing and staying still afterward to invite Duran to throw back, the Left Coast prospect wisely backpedalled without actually running out of harm’s way. It proved to be an effective tactic, as Duran went on the hunt but in a plodding manner that didn’t result in much offense.
The pattern held true for the sixth and seventh rounds which, judging by the scoring in the end, seemed to be just enough for Gonzales to seal the deal. Duran readjusted late in the seventh round, scoring with a right hand that wasn’t enough to take the round, but certainly proved to be a momentum swinger as he seized control in the eighth and final round.
Unfortunately for the hard-luck Ghana native, it proved to be a tad too late, as his fate was sealed well before the round began, at least on two of the three scorecards.
Gonzales advances to 17-0 (13KO) with the win, but to say he improved might be a stretch. To date, he remains best known as the guy who cut Andre Ward in sparring, forcing the super middleweight titlist to postpone by seven weeks his Super Six finals showdown with Carl Froch, which was originally scheduled for Saturday evening.
Nothing in this fight will make people remember him for his abilities in the ring, other than as a prospect with some promise but not necessarily a fan-friendly style.
In his defense, Gonzales’ bout with Duran wasn’t expected to serve as the main event. The eight-rounder received top billing on the show after heavyweight contender Eddie Chambers was forced to withdraw from his title eliminator with Tony Thompson due to an untimely back injury suffered during sparring.
Perhaps what was expected was for Duran to find a way to once again have victory snatched from him. A three-fight win streak comes to a close for the transplanted Ghanaian, who falls to 26-9-2 (10KO) in a fight many will argue should’ve went his way.
The televised opener saw a minor upset as Artemio Reyes scored a unanimous decision over Javier Molina in a sensational eight round war.
Scores were 77-75 and 78-74 (twice) for Reyes, who scores by far the biggest win of his career to date.
Molina began the fight strong, but perhaps unaware that he wasn’t going to get by on pure skill alone. Reyes forced an inside fight every step of the way, working his way inside early and never taking his foot off of the gas.
To his credit, Molina never backed down or showed any hint of searching for a way out a fight that is normally way too much for any 21-year old to handle, much less one in just his 10th pro fight. But try as he might, Molina – a member of the 2008 U.S. Olympic boxing squad - lacks the punching power to make his opponents respect him, and as a result failed to turn things around once he fell behind.
Reyes remained at full speed throughout the fight, pressuring Molina even when getting touched to the body when on the inside. His superior height and reach kept Molina just within his punching range, particularly effective when ripping uppercuts under his guard, or overhand rights whenever Molina threatened to work his way inside.
Unlike what took place in New England a week ago, the ringside officials weren’t scared to go against the A-side fighter, as a terrific fight was properly scored by all three judges.
Reyes improves to 14-1 (11KO) with the win, gaining revenge of sorts after losing an amateur fight to his opponent’s twin brother Oscar Molina.
Meanwhile, Javier Molina suffers the first loss of his pro career as he falls to 9-1 (4KO). He is the first from his Olympic squad to lose a pro fight, though in this fight alone has also been matched far tougher than any of his former teammates. That he remained unrattled all night will undoubtedly make him a better fighter in the long run.
On this particular night, however, it was only good enough to take second place.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com and an award-winning member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Contact Jake at [email protected]